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Electric Assist / Hybrid Bicycles on Camino

  • Thread starter Deleted member 67185
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D

Deleted member 67185

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Question: Are those who use hybrid bicycles eligible for a Compostela if doing the last 200K into Santiago de Compostela? Or does the use of electric power disqualify such? What about bicycles with small, moped-type gasoline engines?

Just curious. :)
 
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MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
SHHHHHH!!!!! Wait for it all to cool down.... just saying.

But seriously, how could anyone be against a solar powered bicycle? Spain is very Solar - positive. Yes? Yes? :cool:
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
I should have hit the search engine first ;) I wonder if anyone has anything more current on the topic?

Apologies - I see now that my post could be read as sniping at you for posting the question. Not my intention at all. As a fundamentalist pedestrian I was simply amused to find what I thought was a fairly obscure issue had already been discussed in some detail by someone who has served in the pilgrim office and thought it might interest you to see the arguments being used. I see that someone else has raised the question of e-bikes in the past day or so and perhaps it is not as abstruse a matter as I thought :) A definitive ruling from the cathedral might be helpful.

My own entirely personal and unofficial opinion is that under the current rules using powered motors in the final 200km should disqualify the person from receiving a Compostela. If a walker is disqualified for using a car or taxi then why should a cyclist be permitted to use a motor just because it happens to be fitted to their own personal machine? And I cannot see that whether that motor is powered by electricity or petrol is relevant either: are walkers granted a Compostela if they can demonstrate that the taxi they used is an electric or hybrid vehicle? If there are going to be rules about the use of powered vehicles then surely they should be consistent?

Just for further clarification - I am not suggesting there should be tougher or more demanding rules for receiving a Compostela. Quite the reverse. I would rather see a return to the situation before the 1993 Holy Year when there were no "100km" and "200km" rules and the Compostela was given to all those who visited the cathedral in a spirit of devotion and asked for one. Their mode of transport was not the point. The current situation leads to all sorts of unseemly scrabbling to find loopholes and ways of receiving a piece of paper with the absolute minimum of effort. Unedifying. It also leads to places like Sarria changing almost beyond recognition for no good reason other than the fact that they lie an arbitrarily defined distance from Santiago.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I should have hit the search engine first ;) I wonder if anyone has anything more current on the topic?
The quoted thread is from 2014. Here is the most recent information, again from @t2andreo:

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/compostela-craziness.49554/post-538866

He is currently in Santiago if I'm not mistaken. Perhaps he can update or confirm for 2018 if he sees this. In July 2017 he wrote that electric-assist bicycles are "Camino legal." The same 200 km distance requirement applies as for other bicycles.
 

Kathar1na

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My current and totally unfounded personal opinion says, btw, that the Compostela is a side-show for most pilgrim-walkers/cyclists. Yes I know that there are long lines and emotions at the pilgrims office but people will walk and cycle and assist-cycle and start from Sarria en masse (because 5 days to a week is a convenient period of time) with or without that option. In any case, the Cathedral would apparently like to see that people put some kind of physical effort into their Santiago pilgrimage to make it look a bit like the "traditional way", that's all, I would not invest too much intellectual energy into searching for a reasoning behind it all. :cool:
 
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Bradypus

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Staff member
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Too many and too often!
In any case, the Cathedral would apparently like to see that people put some kind of physical effort into their Santiago pilgrimage to make it look a bit like the "traditional way", that's all, I would not invest too much intellectual energy for finding a reasoning behind it all. :cool:
:) You are probably right. But I have a very pedantic streak :cool: Reading the post from @t2andreo that you linked above I found the rationale for permitting e-bikes unsatisfactory. Provided the cyclist puts in just enough effort to keep the pedals turning while the motor actually powers the bike counts as cycling? OK - so then my mind wanders off in search of the equivalent situation for walkers. Taking a bus or train provided you remain standing up and marching on the spot? Using an airport-style travelator provided you keep walking and do not pause while it is in motion? Riding in a taxi listening to Riverdance while your feet do a Michael Flatley impersonation....? :)
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
As a multi-year volunteer each summer at the Pilgrim Office, I am not aware of a formal policy change. However, last summer, when these hybrid-bicycles began to show up in significant numbers, I was informally told that the issue is whether you must pedal the bicycle to move forward. The issue of electric assist, with it's superior torque, was not mentioned.

Thus, my conclusion is that a fully electric, pedal-free, cycle that looks like a bicycle would NOT be permitted as it would be treated as a motor vehicle powered by oil-based fuels. However, if you must pedal to obtain even the battery assist, and to charge the battery, THAT appears to be allowed.

When I was there last week, just visiting, I did see numbers of these bicycles parked at the Pilgrim Office.

Hope this helps.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

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Apologies - I see now that my post could be read as sniping at you for posting the question. .....

No apologies needed, Bradypus. I didn't take it that way at all. :) I just saw that the thread was from 2014, and hadn't had any more recent postings. I was curious because I have been reading increasing recommendations on some 'commercial' based, Camino-related websites for hybrid bikes.
 
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Antonius Vaessen

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As I myself am totally not interested in getting a compostella for me a more interesting question is wheather e-bikers are accepted in albergues and can claim a charging point there. ( I have no idea of how much "electricity" they need)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
But I have a very pedantic streak :cool: Reading the post from @t2andreo that you linked above I found the rationale for permitting e-bikes unsatisfactory.
That's why my quote stopped before that rationale. I'm not sure who's it is. :)

I don't think that the Cathedral authorities had ever felt the necessity to enter into a public debate about justifying their contemporary rules for handing out Compostelas. It would be great fun to watch, judging by your post. :)

The argument that the pilgrim has to imitate the "traditional way" isn't convincing as bicycles don't have a sufficiently long tradition; however, biking 200 km requires apparently as much physical effort (kcal burning) as walking 100 km; similar for a horse rider, surprisingly. Sailing, i.e. travelling over the water, is a mode of pilgrimage to Compostela with one of the longest traditions but it didn't require physical efforts as such for most pilgrims, apart from the journey on land to and from the ports of course.

I guess that biking is allowed as acknowledgement of the contemporary culture of the host country; electric assisted bikes (pedal assist only) are legally not defined as motor vehicles in current highway codes/traffic regulations - a potential path for a rationale of combining old and new methods for reaching the tomb of the apostle in the traditional way?
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
I don't think that the Cathedral authorities had ever felt the necessity to enter into a public debate about justifying their contemporary rules for handing out Compostelas. It would be great fun to watch, judging by your post. :)

Years of observing church life from inside its institutions and also studying church history, Christian theology and comparative religion should have prepared me better to just smile and shake my head at the lack of transparency, clarity and consistency in so many church rules and regulations. But hope still seems to triumph over experience in the end. :)
 
I have been following the blog of Timmy Mallett ,an entertainer ,from England.He has cycled from Canterbury to Santiago
and is currently cycling to Santander.He is using an electric powered bike.
Timmy started his journey after the death of his brother Martin who had Down's syndrome.Martin lived life to his full potential and if you read Timmy's blog which you will find at www.timmymallett.com I am sure you will find it very moving as I did..Timmy has left his brother' s name tag in hidden places along his camino.Martin,his brother,was with him on the journey.
While Timmy was in Santiago he had the honour of meeting ,the assistant Dean of the Cathedral..
Timmy is also a very good artist i.e painter ,as was his brother Martin ,and at selected places he took out his brushes and palette and made some beautiful paintings.
Timmy' s camino was and is a wonderful ,loving tribute to his brother Martin .Congratulations to Timmy for his loving and joyful camino on his electric powered bicycle. Buen Camino to him..
 
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I have been following the blog of Timmy Mallett ,an entertainer ,from England.He has cycled from Canterbury to Santiago
and is currently cycling to Santander.He is using an electric powered bike.
Timmy started his journey after the death of his brother Martin who had Down's syndrome.Martin lived life to his full potential and if you read Timmy's blog which you will find at www.timmymallett.com I am sure you will find it very moving as I did..Timmy has left his brother' s name tag in hidden places along his camino.Martin,his brother,was with him on the journey.
While Timmy was in Santiago he had the honour of meeting ,the assistant Dean of the Cathedral..
Timmy is also a very good artist i.e painter ,as was his brother Martin ,and at selected places he took out his brushes and palette and made some beautiful paintings.
Timmy' s camino was and is a wonderful ,loving tribute to his brother Martin .Congratulations to Timmy for his loving and joyful camino on his electric powered bicycle. Buen Camino to him..
Timmy cycled to Finisterre.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
While I can offer some insight as regards obtaining a Compostela after arriving on an electric assist bicycle, I have no information or knowledge concerning how albergues might respond. My guess is that they would not know the bicycle is electric assist, unless someone told them.

Hope this helps.
 

Waka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Some but not all, and other routes too.
As I myself am totally not interested in getting a compostella for me a more interesting question is wheather e-bikers are accepted in albergues and can claim a charging point there. ( I have no idea of how much "electricity" they need)
Very good point.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
@Kathar1na It is very clear that the strictly religious dimension of the Compostela is no longer seen as being of major importance by many - even by the cathedral itself. On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP because after a brief conversation I failed to convince the secretary of the local Amis de Saint-Jacques (who was the one-woman forerunner of the pilgrim office) that I was suitably religious pilgrim material. The canons in Roncesvalles were less discriminating. There was no pilgrim office in Santiago at that time either and before receiving my Compostela I had a searching 20 minute conversation/interview/inquisition in the cathedral itself with a priest from the staff on my motivation for the pilgrimage, my understanding and personal interpretation of the apostle's legend, my view as a Protestant of the significance and value of relics, my devotional practice during the walk,.... A very probing and stimulating conversation that helped me enormously in giving overall shape and direction in retrospect to my pilgrimage. Sadly numbers now no longer allow others that experience and in any case many people now would resent such a conversation as being intrusive or judgemental.
 
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